Thursday, October 15, 2009

Muppets With a Vision

Please excuse my raspy writing this week, I think I must have caught something from Melissa.  

Let's face it, Muppet Vision 3D is an oldie, but a goodie.  It became a staple in MGM Studios and remains a staple in what Hollywood Studios has evolved into.  Even though the film itself is dated and weathered, the attraction as a whole remains a classic Studios icon... at least on the left hand side of the park.  

The show is set inside a massive theatre with an orchestra of adorable penguins playing the score.  In the film itself, Kermit the Frog demonstrates the MuppetVision 3D film process in their hi-tech facility.  Since when did the Muppets get into film making anyway?  For some reason, that "facility" contains an ironing board, a remote control pie, and a huge vacuum capable of sucking in a whole screen.  Speaking of sucking, that's when we meet Waldo, "the spirit of 3D".  Man, I hate this guy, and I really don't understand how he managed to escape the vacuum.  The absolute highlight of the entire film is the finale, Sam Eagle's "A Salute to All Nations But Mostly America."  It makes up for any holes that exist in this swiss cheese plot, and those little toy soldiers with their tassel hats are plain fantastic!   At some point in the film, Bean Bunny feels unwanted and runs away.  He subsequently runs into Waldo, the two take off together and we spend much of the rest of the film looking for and validating the Bunny.  Man, I hate that Bunny, too!  

It is a cute movie, and entertaining for kids.  I wonder, though, are kids today still familiar with these Muppet characters?  With Waldo, Imagineers seem to have been trying to create a Figment-like character for The Studios.  They wanted an attraction superstar to catch on and stand out to visitors whether they were familiar with The Muppets or not.  Waldo was going to be the foray into making it a Disney attraction, with a Disney character.  Waldo backfired.  Everyone hates this guy, almost, almost as much as they hate Bean Bunny.  He's just not likable and it, of course, pains me to say that since *spoiler alert* Waldo turns out to be Mickey Mouse in disguise.  What?!  How can you take the perfection that is Mickey Mouse and even stick him in the same room with Waldo?  I think that is a huge misstep in the film since Waldo just ends up grating on everyone's nerves.  And then there's  Bean Bunny.  How did this guy end up the star of the show?  Why are we forced to care so much about an annoying, "cute" bunny?  Perhaps Kermit would have been too much of a spotlight-stealer if he were made the main character but come on, Bean Bunny?  Bad choice number two.

True, the 3D film was slated to be just one part of a whole Muppet-themed land in The Studios, but that did not come to fruition.  There is great theming throughout the attraction and in the surrounding areas in the park, but it would have been awesome to see this on a grander scale.  Maybe a greater Muppet presence in the park would have helped this film out a bit and kept it relevant even today.  The attraction opened in 1991 and the film portion could sure use a few updates.  3D technology itself has improved quite a bit in the parks in the last eighteen years and for someone who has seen this more times than I can count, it's getting kind of old.

This attraction is definitely worth a visit, even if for the queue and pre-show alone.  The queue has a lot of great detail that deserves a really slow walk-through to appreciate it.  The pre-show area is decorated phenomenally and has all of these crates of props with hilarious messages and jokes written on them.  The pre-show film is also pretty genius and should not be skipped over.  I would suggest spending time checking out the queue and pre-show area, and then thinking of the 3D film as a nice added bonus.  

I don't hate this attraction by any means.  In fact, if I miss seeing it during a trip, I feel like my trip is incomplete.  I love the penguins, I love the live character interaction with the film and the audience and the audio animatronics.  I think a lot of things about this attraction are smart and witty and I keep going back.  There is just a lot more that can be done with this attraction and these characters to make it more of a draw over to no man's land where Muppet Vision 3D is situated.  The film is fine, but it could be better, there is room for a little refurbishing here and there.  It is simply time for an update when a traditionalist such as myself has seen the Waldo and Bean Bunny combo one too many times.  Actually, if they just edited out those two, the film would be perfect!   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

two comments...
1. I agree about the outdated 3-D technology...especially in a theme park that is supposed to focus on movies!

2. I think he's in disguise as Mickey...he wasn't Mickey disguised as Waldo. He changes into Mickey and then says "They'll never recognize me now" (or something like that.) I was trying to figure which was true while watching the end of it last time. Now if I can only find out what happens to that mystery kid in CoP.